Contrary to what most history books tell us, Truman's doctrine wasn't a postwar panacea or readymade roadmap for waging the Cold War. Instead, as Derek Leebaert explains in The Fifty-Year Wound, the Cold War's first four years--which coincided with Truman's first four years as president--'were filled with starts and stops rather than any considered policy or long-range goals.'Of course, it seems as if some historians have already rendered their final verdict, huh?
Nor did Americans immediately rally around Truman's battle plan. As historian Walter LaFeber recalls, Truman's critics 'tore apart' his doctrine and policies. They warned that Truman would weaken the Constitution, over-inflate the presidency, militarize U.S. foreign policy. and destroy the United Nations. (Sound familiar?)
When Truman left the White House, he was generally considered neither particularly successful nor popular. His decision not to seek a third term (even though he was the last president permitted to do so) was evidence of his waning political strength. Yet today, he is ranked among America's greatest presidents.
This is not to say that Bush is destined for a Trumanesque legacy, of course; but neither is he doomed to failure. Tomorrow's historians--not today's polls or pundits--will render the final verdict."
Friday, March 31, 2006
Alan Dowd, though he's not the first (or here; and here for a rejection of the comparison), compares Bush and Truman: